Development of a thin film solar cell interconnect for the PowerSphere concept
Simburger, Edward J., et al. (2005). "Development of a thin film solar cell interconnect for the PowerSphere concept." Materials Science and Engineering: B 116 3: 321-325
Progressive development of microsatellite technologies has resulted in increased demand for lightweight electrical power subsystems including solar arrays. The use of thin film photovoltaics has been recognized as a key solution to meet the power needs. The lightweight cells can generate sufficient power and still meet critical mass requirements. Commercially available solar cells produced on lightweight substrates are being studied as an option to fulfill the power needs. The commercially available solar cells are relatively inexpensive and have a high payoff potential. Commercially available thin film solar cells are primarily being produced for terrestrial applications. The need to convert the solar cell from a terrestrial to a space compatible application is the primary challenge. Solar cell contacts, grids and interconnects need to be designed to be atomic oxygen resistant and withstand rapid thermal cycling environments. A mechanically robust solar cell interconnect is also required in order to withstand handling during fabrication and survive during launch. The need to produce the solar cell interconnects has been identified as a primary goal of the PowerSphere program and is the topic of this paper. Details of the trade study leading to the final design involving the solar cell wrap around contact, flex blanket, welding process, and frame will be presented at the conference.